High Court today took apart the Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA) for not taking up highly congested roads for widening so as to ease the serious problem of traffic congestion.
In a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Citizens Forum through its President R.K.Chadha highlighting abandoning of Shakuntla Chowk-Ambphalla-Janipur flyover, Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice N.Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Dheeraj Singh Thakur took serious note of the traffic congestion in Jammu city. After hearing Senior Advocate S.S.Lehar along with Advocate Aditya Sharma, Court directed ERA to clarify as to in what manner it proposes to deal with the traffic problems in Jammu city.
Court wanted to know that whether it was by way of widening of the roads; consideration of flyover or by plying mono-rail or any other method, the government was going to address the issue of traffic congestion in Jammu city. Prior to this, advocates for the petitioner stated that funds were sanctioned for these roads in the year 2008 but they were not taken up for the reasons best known to the state government. DB while passing the order observed that in the year 2007-2008, a Rs.18.4 crore project was approved by the state government for widening of the roads, particularly Ambphalla-Jail road- New Plot road-Janipura road as also the connecting B.C.road, Jammu.
There was also a proposal for flyover which the Division Bench had been given up for reasons best known to the respondents. It further mentioned that failure on the part of respondents to execute the project had further resulted in deterioration of traffic congestion in the afore-mentioned areas. Statement of facts has been filed in the court and a further stand has been taken that in a meeting convened by the Chief Minister a decision was taken that the B.C.road widening flyover project is to be proposed for future funding under externally aided projects.
It is further stated that the state government has already applied for a new loan and a request in that regard has already been sent to the Union Ministry of Finance and that after the loan is agreed to in principle, the list of projects to be undertaken under proposed loan shall be finalized by the governing body of Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA).
Division Bench further observed that on reading communication dated 26-3-2016, it is found that there is a proposal with regard to the widening of B.C.road-Ambphalla-New Plot-Janipura road and it does not reflect so many problems. Even in the status report filed, no mention has been made about Ambphalla-New Plot–Janipura road regarding the widening of the said road.
Division Bench further observed that it needs to be highlighted as the Judges themselves have seen with their own experience that the entire stretch of road, especially from Ambphalla to High Court, is perhaps the most pathetic in terms of traffic congestion and density, and in covering this short distance a lot of time is consumed. Division Bench further observed that that road falling on the western side of Jammu city over the years has grown into a major official, commercial and residential hub, which also includes the High Court, the subordinate courts, office of the Director Education, office of Social Welfare, Directorate of Statistics & Economics and also an Army installation.
Division Bench directed the ERA to place on record the material on the basis of which decision has been taken. The Division Bench also directed Secretary, Finance to file an Affidavit to show as to whether, while making a loan proposal, as contained in the communication dated 26.3.2016, any specific proposal in regard to the afore-mentioned roads was made to the Central Govt., and a Notice was accordingly issued to the Secretary, Finance. The Division Bench further observed that in view of the fact that issue involves importance; the Union Ministry of Finance through its Secretary has been impleaded as party/respondent No.3 in the PIL.